As is true of every art commission, there are two primary factors at play: the client’s vision and the designer’s technical pragmatism.
Graphic designers know what works and how to build a product that will sell. They know how to deal with technical and design concepts in a practical way. Because of their experience, clients seek graphic designers to advise them on how to bring their vision—their personal preferences–for their site to life. As a graphic designer, you need to know what to ask your graphic design clients to clarify the goals, establish a process, and get the project rolling.
Understand the Specs
There are six ideal points a graphic designer should hit when questioning the client to help steer the project down the road of realistic productivity.
1. Target Audience
Establishing the target audience is one of the most important tasks when onboarding a new client. Businesses typically have a business plan, which should include a marketing strategy. That strategy should detail a specific target audience, knowing what are their needs and desires and provide a benefit to or solution for these prospective customers. Once the target is determined, you can then focus on the “how” to reach them.
The business message is, indeed, the first step in “how” to reach the target audience. It is the purpose of any website. The questions you should ask your graphic design clients are: What is the point your site? Are you trying to sell something? Are you trying to collect leads? What should be your call to action? Consider exploring your client’s personal feelings on the subject or product. How do they feel about it? How do they want their customers to feel about it? Calm? Excited? Motivated? Relaxed?
Often graphic design clients already have set specs in mind. Ask your clients if they have anything in particular that needs to be included, such as layout, page numbers, or a diagram of how things should flow. Ask them if they have any examples from other sites that have inspired them.
Any quality work is going to come at a price. Get a sense from your clients what they’re willing to invest in this project, not only on the work but also in future maintenance. Often clients will consider the job done once the design is complete. Yet, with technological advancements, you may need to go back in and periodically update the site. Are they prepared for that? Do they want a relatively simple and easy to understand layout they can easily edit later? It’s good to give your clients a cost breakdown analysis with project scope and an hourly rate, so they know exactly what they’re paying for.
A focused deadline is essential to maintain focus and achieve your goals. Not only does it drive accountability, but it allows realistic expectations for each party. It may also be necessary to time the launch of the site to coincide with other marketing campaigns. A plan complete with an action item list, for all participants, is a good way to ensure everyone understands what is expected of them, and when it expected.
Try to get as many design details and directives for the project as is possible. Specs regarding color, font, imagery, flow are important input. While designers are expert creators, remember, this is ultimately the client’s project, so it’s best to get as much inspiration from them as possible to help them achieve their desires.
Presenting the graphic design client with an input form outlining these points can really help engage the client and to clarify their wants and desires. A portfolio with design points and various website styles can really inspire communication to streamline production. Be sure to take plenty of notes so that your proposal comes through as informed as possible.